Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Drawbacks of Working from Home No One Talks About

I’ve been working at home for going on seven years now, and now I’m just going to take a minute because holy shit, that’s longer than I’ve done anything. Wow.

Everyone’s super jealous that I get to work from home, and sure, it’s got it’s upsides – no getting up at unholy hours, no hellish commute, less wear and tear on the car, smaller gas budget. But working from home has its drawbacks, and yes, most of them involve the lack of sick days, vacation days, or other benefits of any kind. There are lots of other things that you don’t see coming, however, until you're right in the middle of them.

5) You Start Getting Fat

I didn’t really start getting fat until after I moved back to America, quit smoking, and started taking antidepressants, so I’m 100% certain that those things played a significant role in my unprecedented weight gain. When you have access to your kitchen all day long, you have to be careful not to abuse it, because writing is surprisingly hungry work. I suspect it has something to do with how the brain needs glucose to function.

Also, when I lived in France, people didn’t show up to my house with multiple cakes they apparently expected me to sit and eat by myself, as I complained about recently. French people don’t try to make you eat yourself to death, inadvertently or otherwise. As my friend Kelly pointed out, I don’t have an office full of co-workers who can eat leftover desserts for me. I was going to say those cakes won’t eat themselves, but I guess they might if I leave them in the fridge long enough.

I'd feed them to the woodland creatures, but you don't want to know what sugar does to that woodchuck.

4) Running Errands Becomes a Real Mission

When other people need to pick up a jug of milk, they do it on the way home from work. When I need to pick up a jug of milk, I drink black coffee for two weeks until I finally break down and make a Special Trip to get a jug of milk. Then I get so irritated over having spent a huge chunk of my evening driving from my house, in the middle of nowhere, to the shops, in the middle of somewhere, that I contemplate buying my own cow.

Still not any easier, tbh.

And if I have to go to the bank, well, I don’t go to the bank. The president of the cat rescue I used to volunteer with can back me up on that, because I supervised the Sunday adoption events sometimes and collected a bunch of money in cat adoption fees, and then kept the money at home for two weeks until the president texted to nag me about it. I can’t stop at the bank on the way home from work until they open a branch office in my spare bedroom, which they’re not going to do, no matter how many sternly-worded letters I write them about it.

3) You Work Your Ass Off, but No One Realizes It

By now you’re probably thinking, “What do you mean you can’t find time to run errands, you work from home! Why can’t you just go to bank whenever you want? What do you do all day?”

Well, in answer to your question, Gentle Reader and/or People at Bars and/or All of My Extended Relatives, freaking work is what I do all day. Most people appear shocked to discover that I actually do have to complete specific assignments by a certain time each day, if I want to keep getting paid. 

I can either run around doing personal errands and meeting friends and relatives for leisurely lunches, or I can work. There isn’t time in the average day for both. This is a simple concept that lots of people can’t seem to grasp when they’re calling me up at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday to see if I can drop everything and meet them for ice cream. When anyone else says, “Sorry, can’t, got to work,” it’s accepted without question, but when I say it, it leads to twenty-minute argument about whether I or not I really need to work at that specific moment.

2) You Have More Pajamas Than Real Clothes

It seems like every freelance-writing, work-from-home-advice blogger has to write at least seven obligatory posts about how you shouldn’t work from home in your pajamas. You should put on proper, business-casual attire, do your hair, put on makeup, and coordinate your accessories. This, the (presumably) well-meaning bloggers say, will put you in a “businesslike” mood, make you feel “ready to take on the day,” and ensure that you’re prepared in case you have to hurry out for a last-minute, emergency client meeting.

Well, if you’re considering getting into freelance writing, I can tell you that no one really expects you to wear pantsuits. In all the years I've been freelancing, I’ve had to personally meet with a client exactly once, and he was happy to schedule a meeting at my convenience and did not demand that I hang up the phone and rush out to meet him in my pajamas. If I needed to wake up an hour earlier to go through the rigmarole of hair, makeup, and uncomfortable clothes to “get in the mood for work,” I daresay I would not have what it takes to succeed in this business. Besides, if I'm not getting health insurance, paid time off, or a 401(k), you can bet your sweet ass I'm going to take full advantage of those perks I do have, namely, "wearing whatever I damn well please or nothing at all if that's what strikes my fancy." Screw you, work-from-home-advice bloggers.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t get out of bed, feed the cats, and shuffle into my office wearing the same pair of pajamas that you probably imagine I’ve been wearing for days on end. No, each morning I change out of my night pajamas and into my day pajamas. That’s a lot of pajamas. And yes, once in a while I do forget and wear them to Walmart. Whatevs, everyone else in Walmart is wearing pajamas, too.

1) Dear God, So Lonely

If you’ve never worked from home before, I’m here to tell you that you don’t realize how important your daily interactions with coworkers and customers can be when it comes to not going batshit insane. Being anintrovert, I foolishly thought that I’d make a smooth transition to working from home, alone, in silence, all by myself, all day long, but I took to it about as well as a fish takes to water when the water is in fact vodka.

So...not very well.
Image by torbakhopper from Flickr.

All those little “hellos” and “how are yous” and “would you like some cakes” add up, man. Of course, having been at this for several years, I can say that once you do go batshit insane, it all gets a lot easier.